Nearly every day a newspaper or media outlet in the world changes hands between owners. Some generate a lot of publicity, some very little. One that is certain to affect the future of media in both Taiwan and China is the Apple Daily, the most popular newspaper sold on the streets of Taiwan. Recently sold by the pro-democracy owner to a pro-China media executive, it is believed that serious changes lie ahead for this juggernaut of Taiwanese news, media, and opinion. Since many other Taiwanese newspapers, television programs, and radio broadcasts are influenced by or directly follow the example of the Apple Daily, modern Taiwan may be about to shift drastically with the addition of just a few choice words each day.
An Apple a Day
Formerly owned by Jimmy Lai, a Hong Kong based businessman and publicist, the Apple Daily controls nearly half the market of Taiwanese media, being read by some three million persons per day. Starting in 2013, however, the language of the newspaper is believed to change considerably. The deal that handed the paper off to new buyers paid out well over half a billion dollars, with several bidders hoping to gain this huge, immensely lucrative print venture. While some Taiwanese newspapers that attempt to compete directly with the Daily Apple’s readership tilt strongly in one way or the other on Taiwanese politics, the Apple has maintained a stance on language and tone that has never been partisan. While right-wing newspapers trumpet the economic advantages of Chinese rule for the island while separatist media advocates independence on a daily basis, the Apple took a disinterested stand. Pursuing political scandal rather than partisanship, with plenty of tantalizing gossip and crime stories to spare, it represents one of the sole neutral media outlets in Taiwan.
Change the Words, Change the Message
Now that Jimmy Lai has sold his shares, nearly half of the Apple’s readers will be taking in their news from new owners Next Media. This organization has previously shown its stripes to be fiercely pro-China, having sided with the government in the matter of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre and advocating the mainland Chinese Communist Party ideology. While spokespersons on each side of the deal have each assured readers that the quality of the Daily Apple will not suffer, it seems clear that the days of neutral language (and corruption-sniffing tendencies) in the island’s largest paper are coming to a close. New marketing tactics released by Next Media for the upcoming partisan papers have stressed the failure of Jimmy Lai’s previous dealings. Since Lai lost over one billion dollars in Hong Kong and Taiwanese television over the past decade, Next Media has advocated a shift towards productive journalism to its stockholders and readers, despite the continual health of the paper. It seems certain that the Daily Apple will not only become a political newspaper but that its circulation will suffer as well once the new pro-China media outlet begins to alter the language of its articles to generate sympathy where previously there was neutrality.
- License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://s1342.beta.photobucket.com